Numerical taxonomy of Skermania piniformis and related isolates from activated sludge Academic Article uri icon


  • The microscopic morphology of nocardioforms causing foaming problems in activated sludge usually consists of filaments with branches at either right angles (Nocardia amarae-Like Organisms, NALO) or acute angles (Pine Tree-Like Organisms, PTLO). Fifty-nine nocardioforms, mainly with PTLO morphology, isolated from mixed liquor and foam samples from Australian activated sludge plants, and 39 reference strains of nocardioforms, including type strains, were characterized using 109 morphological and physiological characters. Cluster analysis and Principal Component Analysis showed that the activated sludge isolates clustered in six groups. All isolates that had typical PTLO morphology clustered unambiguously with the Skermania piniformis type strain (formerly called Nocardia pinensis) showing that, unlike NALO, reliable unequivocal identification of S. piniformis, based on microscopic morphology in activated sludge, was possible. Other foam isolates whose morphology consisted of branches with both acute angles and right angles clustered as two separate groups, probably representing new species. These could not be confused microscopically with S. piniformis, despite some branches showing acute angles. The remaining three groups had typical NALO morphology. One of these groups did not cluster with any reference cultures and may be a new species or genus.

publication date

  • February 1998